By Reg Jones
Q. I am 58 years old and plan to retire in the next few years. My husband turned 65 this year and plans to retire in the next year. We are covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits. Should my husband be taken off my medical plan to reduce my contribution? How will this affect his Medicare coverage?
Q. I retired a few years ago with a pension and with Federal Employees Health Benefits coverage. Turned 65 a year ago. Have not applied for Social Security, as the benefit will be less than $200 per month.
All sources tell me that when I apply for Social Security, Medicare Part A will be mandatory, even though all our working careers, they said we can just have FEHB for retirement. I do not want Part A and wish to remain with FEHB only. Also with all of the mixups, I am sure they will put me into Part B, as well (even though I do not want or need).
Q. At age 65, I sign up for Medicare Part A because it is free and I keep my Federal Employees Health Benefits but decline Medicare Part B. Does that mean my FEHB will pay out benefits as usual as if employed, or will FEHB pay benefits as if I had Medicare Part B? If so, that means I will be paying premiums on FEHB, which provides less coverage than when I was younger and working and not eligible for Medicare.
Q. I’m currently (last 10 years) enrolled in the Blue Cross Standard family plan #105, for my wife and myself. Once I turn 65 and enroll in Medicare, would I continue with the same plan or enroll in a lesser plan such as the Blue Cross Basic family plan #112 to save money? One would think that with Medicare kicking in at age 65, which subsidizes medical cost, the supplemental Blue Cross plan would cost less. Does that sound right?
Q. Will Medicare or my spouse’s Federal Employees Health Benefits be my primary? He has been employed for 40 years and is still working for a federal agency. I am covered under his Blue Cross/Blue Shield.
Q. My husband is retired Postal Service, with Blue Cross/Blue Shield and Medicare Part A.
I will be 65 in March but only have 37 credits and do not qualify for Social Security or Medicare, according to my SS statement.
I would like to know if I qualify for Part A under my husband’s Medicare benefits and, if so, what will happen to that benefit if he dies before I do? Due to medical issues, I do not plan to work in to get those last three credits.
Q. I am 79 years old. I am an annuitant and presently have the federal Blue Cross/Blue Shield plan, along with Medicare parts A and B. I want to drop my Part B coverage. Will I lose my federal BC/BS if I drop Part B?
Q. My husband is a federal civil servant and planning to retire in a couple of years. His insurance carrier is the mail handlers benefit plan, enrolled as family plan.
When he retires at age 65½, I understand that Medicaid will take over as his primary health plan. What will happen to the mail handlers benefit plan we’ve been carrying for the past 30 years? Do we have to change it to the supplement B or whatever covers what’s not paid by Medicaid? Or will the mail handlers benefit plan pick up the balance, prescription, etc.?
Q. I am retiring under FERS and continuing health insurance coverage. Why do I need Medicare Part B or D? Doesn’t my health insurance provide these benefits? Why would I want both?
Q. I retired in 2000 with 30 years of federal civil service and am covered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. My wife has survivor benefits both for my annuity and my Social Security. I declined Medicare coverage when we qualified for it. Now we are in our 70s, and I want to know if we can now enroll in Medicare. If so, how is the penalty calculated? I’m under the impression that the accumulated penalty for late enrollment may not be to our benefit to enroll. As it stands now, we pay 20 percent of all our medical expenses, and they have been substantial, with the medical problems that my wife has now.
Q. I am a retired federal employee. I kept my Blue Cross/Blue Shield under the Federal Employees Health Benefits. My husband is retired Army and is covered by Tricare for Life, Medicare and my Blue Cross/Blue Shield. I am also covered under my husband’s Tricare but not Tricare for Life. Do I need to sign up for anything else when I turn 65 in January?
Q. I’m looking to retire within the next year after turning 60. My wife and I are in excellent physical condition with no medical conditions. I’m the only one who works in the federal workforce. Once I turn 65, should I consider enrolling in Medicare or just stay with my Federal Employees Health Benefits (currently with Blue Cross/Blue Shield)?
Q. My husband is a retired federal employee. We both have Medicare as our primary and have Blue Cross/Blue Shield Fed standard plan as our supplemental coverage. If he dies, am I eligible to keep the BCBS Fed as my supplemental?
Q. My wife and I are covered under the Federal Employees Health Benefits plan, but do not have Medicare Part B. She is 77 and I am 83. Consequently, to enroll in Part B now would be cost prohibitive. We are currently enrolled in an HMO, so Part B is not a problem. If we were not in an HMO, how much would we be penalized if we were in a service benefit plan without Part B? For example, if we were in Blue Cross Standard, what additional costs would we incur without Part B?
Q. I retired from the Postal Service in 2006. I will turn 65 in April. If I understand this correctly, my employer health insurance becomes my secondary insurance and Medicare becomes my primary. Why would my premiums stay the same for an insurance that’s providing me less coverage? Also, what parts (A, B, C, D) are advisable to sign up for with Medicare?
Q. My husband and I are employed with different federal agencies. He is with the Veterans Affairs Department, and I am with the Defense Department. He has covered me under a family plan for the past 10 years. We are both preparing for retirement next year. Our daughter turned 27 this year and is no longer eligible for coverage under the family plan. So it is cheaper for each of us to elect our own self insurance plans, rather than for him to continue the family plan. If I elect a self plan this open season, and then retire next year, how will the Office of Personnel Management know that I have been covered under Federal Employees Health Benefits for the required five years? I don’t want to be stuck without coverage eligibility after I retire.
Q. I retired from the Postal Service at age 70. I did not sign up for Medicare Part B at 65. I carried my Federal Employees Health Benefits plan into retirement. I understood that as long as I kept my insurance, I would not be penalized if I decided to sign up at a later time. That was two years ago. I am considering an Advantage plan and have been told by Social Security that I will be penalized for each 12-month period since I turned 65, even though I continued to work until 70. I retired Oct. 1, 2011.
Q. I am a retired disabled military member who works in the federal government. Since I am retired, I did not opt for any of the Federal Employees Health Benefits, as I am covered through Tricare as well as the Veterans Affairs Department. So, why is it that I must pay into Medicare when I am presently covered by another form of medical coverage? What can I do to stop this $2,247.18 annual deduction? Since I am covered as a vet under VA, I don’t need additional medical coverage. This is not right. How do I get my money back?
I’ve been paying into this since 2005 as a federal employee, having spent the previous 20 in the military. Since retiring eight years ago, I have been receiving Medicare care as a disabled vet through VA, and my family is covered through Tricare, which I pay monthly through payroll deduction. So where is my $2,247.18 going every year? What is the government doing with my earnings? Are there any provisions to cease this from happening?
Q. My wife and I both work for the Veterans Affairs Department. She has been covered under my self-and-family policy of Blue Cross/Blue Shield for the past 23 years. She will turn 65 this December. I am 59. Is she required to use Medicare for her primary insurer at age 65, or can she continue to use BC/BS as her primary insurer? We are satisfied with BC/BS, and all of our doctors take this easily. Is there a difference between use of Part A (hospitalization) versus Part B? If she chooses not to take Part B at this time, can she use BC/BS for office visits? Can she sign up for Part B later?
Q. I am married to a retired federal employee. I have been covered on her health insurance for well over five years. She’s getting ready to have Medicare as her primary insurance and Blue Cross/Blue Shield (FEP) as her secondary coverage. Will this change anything for me on my BC/BS coverage? Will I still have the same coverage although my wife’s BC/BS is her secondary coverage?